Homes and Freedom

This anonymous letter was read to the CrimethInc. convergence held this summer in July. The reader said it was written by some friends who couldn't attend the convergence but were launching their own project of liberation:
For the past year, we have inhabited an occupied space in conflict with the prevailing logic of capitalism: everything that can be desired is for sale (nothing escapes the realm of the commodity); in order to survive one must exchange commodities for their representation in the form of currency; one's daily experience, the sum of life itself, is nothing more than a good to be sold on the open market. That space and the lives we have come to know and to love are being directly threatened by those who have chosen to base their livelihoods on exploitation, fear, and the destruction of life. We are anarchists, squatters, and gardeners who by asking no leave, no permission to live, have attempted to take directly some of the means necessary for life: the space and time to breathe and recover from the incessant monotony of school, work, rent, and the supermarket; the thought and energy to mount an attack against all that which is killing us piecemeal.
Unfortunately, nowhere do the authors even hint at where they reside, and so "Midwest" could mean anywhere from Kansas to Ohio. But they acknowledge the fragility of their situation and ask for folks to keep an ear to the ground in the event of future trouble that may be heading their way. They explicitly state their goal is not merely another place to live but a place worth living:
Our project is the destruction of the current social order and the creation of lives truly worth living. Squatting is one means of many we choose to further this endeavor. We have never been interested in finding yet another way to merely survive. Our interest lies in the generation of conflict and combustion capable of skyrocketing us out of this mess.
The creation of a confrontational squat is a relatively new and rare occurrence for the United States, at least outside of New York City. As mentioned earlier, the social situation is opening up space for the reclamation of unused housing. A well-planned and well-defended squat could be not worth the authorities' efforts to evict -- especially when it would mean just one more derelict building on a block of foreclosed homes.

Also interesting is the squatter's ignoring (and by implication, rejection) of using the squat as just another way to leverage city officials for a new homeless shelter or other concessions. Squatting contains the possibility of removing the "housing advocates" or activists that mediate between government and its subjects. The squat contains both the petition and the demand itself, eliminating both the desire for and the possibility of compromise on the part of the rebels.

The Vancouver Woodward Squat will likely be cited numerous times in the discussion on insurrectionary housing; some of the anarchist squatters have provided numerous texts and analysis of the experience. Their piece Squatting or Activist Posturing? looks at attempts to accelerate the Woodward Squat from a 10-day plea for social housing into a permanent, self-managed squat for homeless folks, free of external control, and how "anti-poverty" activists stifled momentum.

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